Learning to Lament: Grieving the Small Things

We live in a comparison culture. As self-oriented people, we constantly measure ourselves against others. We even compare our suffering. When our situation doesn’t seem as bad as someone else’s, we will often dismiss our struggles as not significant enough to mention (to God or to a friend). But if we ignore our experience and don’t acknowledge its impact, the hurt is still there. We don’t learn or grow by dismissing it; the pain just festers and bleeds into our relationships and behavior. 

One of the beautiful truths about lament is that even the small things are an invitation to turn to God and walk through it with Him. Relationships are forged in the daily moments. If we only turn to our Father in crisis, we won’t have intimate trust and dependence built up, and we won’t know His voice as well. The more often we turn to Him with a humble posture of lament, the more we will grow.

The current pandemic has delivered so many unexpected disappointments and losses. You may not have lost a loved one or your job, but you have been impacted in some way. How can we learn to deal with disappointment in a way that is both honest and humbly dependent on God? Lament gives us a language and a framework to process through the daily hurts and losses, to be comforted by God’s presence, and directed by Him in how to respond. When we turn to God, every small thing is an opportunity to know Him more and be shaped to reflect Him to others. 

The process of grieving the small things looks just like any other lament:

  • Turn to God and acknowledge the struggle, whether it comes in the form of loss, fear, confusion or disappointment. Give voice to what you feel.
  • Seek God’s help to understand why you’re feeling this way. Why does this struggle feel significant? What do you care about and value in this situation?
  • How do God’s character and ways speak to your experience? Remember truth, cry out to Him for help and wisdom, and yield your heart to trust in Him.

Learning to lament the everyday hurts and disappointments takes some intentional practice to develop a rhythm of noticing and taking them to God. In my life, I want this turning to become an automatic response from a heart that knows, loves and is yielded to my Father—as natural as reaching for food when I’m hungry. Here are some practical tools that are helping me grow: 

  • Journaling. When I’m not journaling, I’m not really processing. This practice helps me to be still enough to understand what I’m dealing with and encourages me to be consistent in turning to God. 
  • Sharing with a friend. We can benefit from the help of other believers to give a fresh perspective on what we’re going through and remind us of truth. 
  • Recognizing patterns. There tend to be certain themes connected to the things I get upset about and the reasons why they impact me. Noticing these patterns helps me learn about my own heart and emphasizes what God is teaching me.
  • Searching Scripture. As I see these patterns and learn from God’s Word, it’s helpful to keep a list of truths and verses from Scripture that remind me of what God has been showing me about Himself and how I live before Him. 

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